The Federal Aviation Administration has cleared the way for a range of electronic devices to be used in-flight, even during take off and landing.
Passengers will still not be allowed to use their devices to connect the Internet below 10,000 feet, and voice calls will not be permitted in-flight, but the use of portable games consoles, MP3 players and any device that can be put into an airplane mode will be allowed.
The relaxation of the rules will go a long way to breaking up the boredom felt by passengers as they await take off.
“Passengers shouldn’t expect changes to happen immediately,” The Associated Press reports. “How fast the change is implemented will vary by the airline, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said at a news conference.”
Airlines will have to prove to the FAA that their aircraft meet new guidelines preventing interference before they will be allowed to offer the service. Many will qualify, especially since the introduction of in-flight WiFi by many carriers.
Critics of the policy banning the use of personal electronics in flight have argued for years that it was an out dated concept. As more and more people have started carrying multiple electronic devices, some studies have suggested that up to a third of passengers flout the regulations, often out of ignorance, and that there has never been a serious incident related to personal electronics not being turned off.
The regulation came into effect in the 1960s when bored air passengers began carrying FM radios on planes to keep them occupied, and there were reports that the signals from them caused interference in the cockpit.
“We’re pleased the FAA recognizes that an enjoyable passenger experience is not incompatible with safety and security,” Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, told the AP.